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With Dietary Change, Do Whatever Works for You – Good Advice or a Bad Philosophy?
By Don Bennett, DAS

A common piece of advice when experimenting with different healthy lifestyle practices is to "do whatever works for you". There is a definite risk when following this advice, and it revolves around the definition of the word "works". If you're not knowledgeable with respect to what you're experiencing when making significant changes in one of your lifestyle habits, you may draw the wrong conclusions. For instance: How you feel is not always a good indicator of what is really working for you. If you switch from a "Typical Western Diet" to a healthy human diet overnight, you may feel worse before you feel better (I'll explain why in a moment). If you don't realize that this is normal, you may go back to what you were previously eating to see what happens, and when you feel better – which you most certainly will – you may misinterpret this and mistakenly conclude that a plant-based diet doesn't "work" for you, and that, for example, eating a lot of protein does.

To understand the above scenario it's necessary to understand the concept of detoxification. If you're in an unhealthy state of health (and you can be without knowing it), it's unlikely you got into this condition overnight; it probably took decades. So when you decide to get healthy, it isn't going to happen overnight; it'll take time (so obviously the time to start improving your health is now). For every four years of unhealthy living habits it can take one year to reverse the negative effects. And as I said, you may feel worse before feeling better. So to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions it's a good idea to have a working knowledge of what's happening as you improve your health.

A long time ago there were very few toxic substances you could take into your body. And those that were toxic would be immediately evident; if a plant tasted bitter, odds were that it was probably poisonous, and the bitterness was a signal to not eat it… so you wouldn't. In this way, you were protected from consuming toxic things. But today, that natural taste bud protective mechanism doesn't do us much good; processed foods that taste delicious can contain plenty of toxins. And even if something tastes "yuk", many people still consume it because it's socially acceptable, their peers do it, and there's something you like about it. To me, beer and hot spicy food do not taste yummy, so I don't consume them, but I did at one time… my peers did, and I liked the effect, so I did too. But that was very disrespectful of my body, and not respecting your body is a big mistake if good health is important to you.

When toxic and irritating substances enter the body, the body tries to keep these things from harming its cells. If the body doesn't have enough vitality to expel these substances as they come in, it has only two choices: leave them in the system where they can go around damaging things, or put them someplace where they'll do the least amount of harm. Naturally it tries to store them, and the place where they can do the least damage is in the fat cells. When someone who is losing weight feels sick, it is often because those toxins that were stored in their fat cells are now becoming systemic (their storage containers are shrinking) and the body is now having to deal with them.

If you've been exposing your body to toxic substances every day for decades, and then you stop doing this, your body is finally able to rid itself of the stored toxins, and begin the task of repairing any damage caused by them. The process of expelling stored toxins is called detoxification (detox), and it is never pleasant. And since you feel terrible, some people mistake detoxification as a sign that their body did better when it was given non-human food because when they go back to eating those things, they feel better. Why? Because the detox process stops! (Some people call the detox process "withdrawal", but that's an inaccurate term.)

Another scenario is when, in our efforts to improve our health, we transition from an unhealthy diet and lifestyle to a healthier one, and we experience improvement so we assume that this new way of living "works" for us and is now the way we should live, when in actuality the short-term improvements were mainly due to what we stopped doing. And the green juices, and wheatgrass, and the other new things that we started doing were simply healthier than what we had been doing, and although we're seeing improvement in the short term, these things will not serve us and allow us to thrive in the long term. And indeed may still allow serious disease to occur even though it may be a little farther down the road.

So be very careful when deciding what works for you, because you really won't know what works until you know what worked, and you won't know what worked, usually, for many decades. And we won't have access to a time machine so if what we thought was "working" for us turned out not to work after all, we won't be able to go back in time and try something different. This underscores the importance of making correct decisions now, because the knowledge of what is likely to still be working for you 30 years from now, and not merely in the short term, is crucial if maximum health creation, illness avoidance, and a robust quality of life for your whole life is your goal.

So it's best to rely on the most useful tools in our toolbox, like researching and using our critical thinking skills when deciding on what dietary decisions to make. And researching should be a multi-source educational approach so that you can run into any conflicting information... and believe me, when it comes to diet, there is boatloads of misinfo out there, and it is in your best interest to discover it.


Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox – like logic, common sense, critical thinking, and independent thought – to figure out how to live so you can be optimally healthy. Don shares his enlightening and empowering information through his articles, books, and counseling services available at Health101.org

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